I overheard a couple speaking in a coffee shop the other day and the topic was fitness. In particular it was about trying a new activity this summer… more specifically surfing. They were brainstorming where to go (I’m partial to Nantasket Beach as it’s in my backyard) and who to take a lesson or two from (certainly not me… I only excel at falling off of my surfboard). Summer is a terrific time in New England to try a new sport or fitness activity on for size. Trying out new exercises can be a ton of fun, but along with this excitement comes challenge and a few blows to the ego… there is a mental game to it all. Here are a few tips to keep you on track:
Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
New is new… new ways to move, new ways to think. If it was immediately comfortable, you would have likely done it before. Accepting the physical awkwardness and emotional discomfort of a new task sets you up to learn it most quickly.
Commit to a Fair Test of Time
Pick a specific date a few months away from your start date a new activity. When this date arrives you will reflect on whether your progress in the exercise has been sufficient. This allows you to step away from judging each training session as “good” or “bad.” Freeing you up to learn and fully focus on the journey.
Measure Success By What You Learn
Games won, pounds shed, or times run are all nice, but are truly poor measures of successful striving. Furthermore all can be distractions to why you embraced a new activity in the first place… for the novelty of it and to learn. Take time to marvel at your efforts and learning… the results will follow in due time.
Enjoy It All
Sport and exercise is serious play. Too often emphasis lies on “serious,” in neglect of “play.” Perhaps the troubadour of summer said it best, “With all of our running and all of our cunning if we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.” Jimmy Buffett has come and gone from Boston this year, but he certainly knows something about summer… perhaps even summer exercise. Lots of laughs, better accompany our new (and old) fitness fun.
Find some new ways to play this summer. Adopt a mindset that lets you learn and enjoy it all.
Dr. Adam Naylor leads Telos Sport Psychology Consulting and is a Clinical Assistant Professor in Boston University’s School of Education. He has a decade and a half of experiences working with professional through amateur athletes – of note: US Open competitors, NCAA champions, Olympians, Stanley Cup winners, and UFC martial artists. Beyond sports, over the past five years he has served as a corporate performance and wellness consultant. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ahnaylor.